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Licencing floodplain harvesting at lawful, sustainable volumes would be a major environmental, social and economic reform for the NSW Murray Darling Basin. There are also major implications for human health, community wellbeing, equity and the state budget. With so much at stake, public and government attention needs to be focused on the work of the
Murray Darling Basin Governments are attempting to recover 450 gigalitres (GL) of water through off-farm water efficiency projects, with almost $1.6 billion in funding, or an average of $3,500 per megalitre. Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI) has put forward a proposal that would recover 6,282ML at a cost of $124 million. This equates to $19,739 per megalitre
The current level of floodplain harvesting is inconsistent with legislation. Reducing the practice to lawful levels could be done with minimal economic impact due to the export-oriented and capital-intensive nature of cotton production. Even in cotton producing regions, cotton accounts for less than 5% of jobs. Despite a reputation for high profits, major cotton producers
Money originally allocated to ensure a healthy Murray-Darling Basin is now earmarked to be spent on seemingly unrelated infrastructure in New South Wales. Instead of recovering 450GL promised to the environment in downstream states, this money may now flow to a range of questionable projects, including upgrading 1200 bridges in irrigation districts.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) report on strategic water purchases found that the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources’ processes were poor, could not ensure value for money or that conflicts of interest were eliminated. Despite these findings, the audit did not ask if the public actually got value for money and real environmental
Supply measure projects that purport to save water in the Yanco Creek System will lead to environmental damage and “greater diversions” for irrigation in the Murrumbidgee according to water agencies. They are likely to be unlawful, with no way of properly assessing environmental equivalence as defined in the Basin Plan.
Recently released documents show that the vendors in an $80 million water sale had repeatedly offered far lower prices to the Commonwealth but these offers were rejected as ‘not value for money’. The documents mention a company linked to Energy Minister Angus Taylor seven years after it says it ended work with the vendors. The
The Australia Institute welcomes the opportunity to make a submission to the South Australian Select Committee on the findings of the South Australian Murray Darling Basin Royal Commission and the Productivity Commission’s five-year assessment of the Plan. Public commentary frequently blames the Basin Plan for the economic, social and environmental demise of much of the
The Australian National Audit Office is investigating so-called strategic water purchases in the Murray Darling Basin. These purchases were counter to government policy on reducing consumptive use, have not brought balance to the Commonwealth’s water portfolio, were not value for money and did not meet guidelines on transparency, accountability and ethical procurement. The Australia Institute
The Australia Institute made a submission to the Independent Assessment of Social and Economic Conditions in the Murray-Darling Basin. The socio-economic conditions of the Murray Darling Basin share many characteristics with other areas of regional Australia – lower incomes and difficult access to important services. These should be addressed as well as the mismanagement of
The Australia Institute supports the Murray-Darling Basin Commission of Inquiry Bill 2019. This submission considers the implementation of the Basin Plan from a financial auditing perspective.
We thank the Natural Resource Commissioner for the thorough and forthright Draft Review of the Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan. We support all of the Commission’s recommendations.We raise two additional matters for the Commission’s consideration: Legality of the 2012 Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan Cap compliance
Decisions by the Murray Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) to flood the Barmah-Millewa forest and drain Menindee Lakes have reduced water for NSW Murray general security holders, who have zero allocation for 2018-19. We estimate an allocation of between 16% and 61% could have been possible had MDBA complied with its official Objectives and Outcomes.
The mismanagement of the Murray-Darling Basin has become a national issue in 2019. While the Basin’s problems are widely discussed, solutions are not. Practical steps to turn around the fortunes of the Basin and its people are: Provide emergency relief to the southern Basin dairy industry. Develop a policy framework to ensure diversity in Basin
Analysis of released documents shows that the licences bought by the Commonwealth didn’t exist until the vendors estimated the volumes of the licences themselves, at the suggestion of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Due diligence was problematic. At least half of the water purchased cannot count towards water recovery targets as it was
New research from The Australia Institute shows that South Australians overwhelmingly want a Commonwealth Royal Commission into the Murray Darling Basin Plan (73%) and believe that irrigation businesses in the Darling Basin should not be allowed to draw water when mass fish kills and drinking water shortages are occurring downstream (84%).
The rules in place prior to the 2012 Barwon-Darling Water Sharing Plan were based on science and extensive stakeholder consultation. The Water Sharing Plan included changes to those rules that were not based on any science and were not consulted on. The plan was also based on a fundamentally deficient Cap model. The pre-2012 rules
The Australia Institute has made a submission to the Senate Standing Committees on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport inquiry into cotton exports. A ban on cotton exports is an ‘unpalatable measure’, but policy change is needed to make the industry transparent, accountable and reduce its impacts on communities and ecosystems elsewhere in the Murray
The Barwon-Darling/Barka River is dry. But almost 2,000 gigalitres have been consumed by the irrigation industry this year while nothing has flowed to Menindee Lakes, the site of the summer fish kills. Despite this, the river actually ‘owes’ water to industry, ‘debts’ it is unlikely to repay due to climate change and policy settings. Please
The NSW Draft Floodplain harvesting monitoring and auditing strategy (draft strategy) is entirely inadequate for managing floodplain harvesting in New South Wales. It is inconsistent with numerous legislative and other government commitments and is likely unlawful. It should be withdrawn and heavily revised. [Read the full submission]
Hundreds of thousands of native fish have died in recent weeks in the Menindee Lakes. Drought is the catalyst, but policy failure and mismanagement are the cause. Both State and federal governments and water agencies are responsible for this disaster.
The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) does not have the powers to deliver on its responsibilities. Instead it relies on verbal and other non-legally binding agreements in managing its near $3 billion worth of environmental water. An audit by EY found this presented “unique fraud risks”. South Australia’s substitution of Coorong environmental water for other
Stakeholders in the Lower Darling are strongly opposed to proposed changes to the Menindee Lakes. Local member Kevin Humphries has proposed a new ‘Option 7’ for the Lakes, aiming to deliver more water and local jobs. Unfortunately, Option 7 would require changes to legislation, agreements and infrastructure. There is a real risk that the NSW
This report is a step-by-step guide to valuing compensation in the Lower-Darling. Major changes to the management of the Lower Darling will affect the whole community. To date only one stakeholder, major agribusiness WebsterLtd, has been compensated by the Commonwealth. The region’s other businesses and property owners should assess how Webster’s compensation was calculated in